5G tests under way in New York

Tests have begun in New York City of 5G wireless broadband, but it could be 2020 before the lightning-fast technology - at least one gigabit per second - becomes a reality.

  • Published: 25/05/2013 at 06:11 PM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

Engineers from Samsung Electronics are carrying out the tests, according to a report in the MIT Technology Review.

While most of the world has become accustomed to 3G, and 4G will soon be mainstream in many countries, 5G represents a much more ambitious step.

Samsung believes 5G will likely combine new wireless protocols with new network designs, spectrum-sharing schemes, and more small transmitters.

The South Korean company says its new transceiver can send and receive data at speeds of more than a gigabit per second over up to two kilometres - and it could deliver tens of gigabits per second at shorter distances.

This compares to about 75 megabits per second for the latest standard, 4G LTE (Long-term Evolution).

The Samsung technology relies on 28-Gigahertz frequencies, which can carry more data but can be blocked by buildings, people, foliage, and even rainfall, according to MIT Technology Review at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In a 2010 patent filing, Samsung said it had greatly mitigated these problems by sending data over as many as 64 streams from 64 antennas, dynamically shaping how the signal is divided up, and even controlling the direction in which it is sent.

NYU Wireless, part of the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, did performance tests last year for Samsung in New York City and Austin, Texas, and found that the technology could work well in a cluttered environment.

Still, the ranges involved suggest that high-frequency technologies will be best for short-range hotspots, said Jeff Reed, director of the wireless research centre at Virginia Tech.

"I am sceptical that they will be able to deliver high data rates with the mobility that we have become accustomed to with 2G, 3G, and 4G cellular systems," he said.

So far, the telecommunications industry has implemented only the most basic features of 4G LTE. More sophisticated features will allow improvements in data rates.

"While Samsung’s technology may form part of the 5G future — an ultrafast network technology running in hotspots — a larger mix of technologies and strategies will be needed to deliver data more quickly and reliably," says MIT Technology Review.

Standards are set by the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations body. It will be several years until even all of the 4G LTE versions are rolled out. Samsung said its technology could be ready by 2020.

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